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Please Help -- Neighbor's Dangerous Tree Massachusetts

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  • Please Help -- Neighbor's Dangerous Tree Massachusetts

    I'm desperate for advice. There is a large, old tree on the property line between us and out neighbors (basically all of the tree is really on their property. Too minute an amount towards ours to matter). Several tree companies have come to look at it -- it is clearly rotted and bug-ridden in the trunk -- and say, without fail, it is a fatally dangerous hazard. It is leaning so that when it falls, it will hit our driveway, probably a portion of our porch, and our yard.
    We offered to pay to have it cut down but our neighbor has flat out refused to allow us to touch it. We contacted our insurance company and were advised to write a certified letter to them explaining our findings and their rather hefty liability should the unthinkable happen. We did so, copying it to our insurance company.

    Well, all that is well and good, but I am terrified that a member of our family will be out there when it comes down. Is there no way to force them to take it down or to allow us to take it down since it's such a direct threat and is so clearly rotting away? I have included photos taken from my dining room window. You can see the obvious rot is on the side facing us. I'm just at a loss to what to do and can't believe we have no options and must simply wait, fingers crossed, for it to come down.

    I would really appreciate some advice/direction, etc!

    Melissa
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  • #2
    I'm no expert, but that tree doesn't look healthy to me either.

    I would suggest seeing if your city/county has any ordinances on the books about maintaining any dangerous condition -- including a hazardous tree -- on private property. If so, the appropriate regulatory agency might be able to step in.

    If there is any chance that the tree could take down power or phone lines if and when it falls, the appropriate utility company might be able to take action against the owners to get them to act.

    Finally, if you've got experts willing to state that the tree poses a danger to your house, you might be able to sue and get the courts to order the tree be cut down.

    In the meantime, the insurance company is correct in telling you to send the certified letter. It puts the owners on notice and, if the tree should fall, moves the liability to them and their insurance company.

    People don't realize that trees need to be maintained and cared for. When my husband and I bought our house five years ago, my husband was so happy that the backyard was all woods and he would only have to mow the front yard. I think we could have given everyone on the block a new lawn mower for what we spent on tree professionals in the past five years.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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    • #3
      Power companies

      The only lines it really threatens are from the pole to our house. The power comanies don't do anthing about that, do they?? Isn't it usually just the streets lines?

      Thanks for the reply, btw.

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      • #4
        I think it depends on the power company. You have nothing to lose by giving yours a call.
        I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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        • #5
          You can try. The line from the pole to the meter is usually theirs, though since the tree isn't on your property they may still not be able to do anything.

          Too bad you can't send the neighbor's insurance company a copy of the letter. They may be interested in the liability. I have seen companies insist on property owners fixing things they deem a liability before they will renew a policy.

          -Tim
          Busy B Realty - Honey Run Apiaries

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          • #6
            Yes -- we had a tree guy mention this today. But how the heck do I find out who their insurance company is??

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